Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Vacation Day Two

Photo of the Day:

There is no sweeter sight to parents anywhere, especially when only half-way through a three-day road trip.

Comment of the Day:

Kellen, as we pull up to a gas station and prepare to get out: "Dad, don't open the door! I don't have any pants on!!"

Everyone else, in reply: "Whaaaaaat?!?!?"

Monday, June 29, 2009

Vacation Day One

Photo of the Day:

Look at those shining, smiling, happy faces. No tears, no fighting, no arguing, no complaining. Nothing but enthusiasm and excitement and cooperation.

Of course, we hadn't even backed out of the driveway yet, but we were definitely off to a good start.

Comment of the Day:

Kristie: "How's it going out there? Is Dad getting the suitcases up in the luggage carrier ok?"

Kendrie: "Yeah, um. Well, he's cussing .... a LOT."

Thought of the Day:

There are no friends like dear friends who you don't get to see NEAR often enough. Rena', thanks to you and your kids for meeting us for dinner and ice cream ..... I still miss our glory days in Georgia .... all girlfriends, all the time.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Photo(s) of the Day, Vacation Day T-1 (AKA, We're off to a rip-roaring good start!)

So, I was getting ready tonight to drive to Wal-Mart to buy some last minute items for our trip. One of the things I needed to buy was new shorts for Blaine. Because despite the fact we have been planning this trip for almost two YEARS, do you know when he informed me that he needed new shorts??? This morning.

Of course he did.

But that's really alright because I needed to buy snacks and drinks for the van, and pick up some travel toiletries (blah blah)

Here's our van as I headed out to Wal-Mart, all gassed up and ready to be loaded with suitcases:

It's such a promising photo, isn't it? Brimming with hope and anticipation for a fun family vacation ..... driving half way cross the country, sing-alongs, the license plate game .... ahhhh, good times.


What's that?

What's that funny looking scrape on the luggage carrier???

Ohhhhhhhhhh, THAT would be from where I tried to drive into the garage with the luggage carrier on top of the van tonight.

Because I'm a MORON.

Yep, vacation's off to a great start.

All the suitcases are packed, the snacks and drinks are purchased, ice chest is ready to go. Assuming I can go the next ten hours without burning down my house, stepping on a scorpion, or ripping my hand off in an unfortunate Magic Bullet incident, I think we're good to go.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dear anyone I've ever met in my life before,

I feel as though I possibly owe you an apology.

Specifically, if I met you during the years of 1985 through 1997, and said anything at all, made one comment or even a single statement, about parenting, child-rearing, discipline, control, obedience, or parental authority. Because I did not yet have children, and although I was unaware of it at the time, I was clearly TALKING OUT OF MY ASS.

I attended a scrapbook retreat this weekend with about twenty women who were all friendly, cheerful, lovely. However, as is often the case in life (or more specifically, at scrapbook retreats where tables are lined up next to one another) some people talk more loudly than others, and when you are in close proximity to other people's conversations, you (meaning ME) sometimes cannot help but overhear.

Earlier today, I eavesdropped couldn't help but hear a conversation between two women, one who had children, and one who was a newlywed and did not have children. The conversation, which wound up and down and around for probably close to an hour, consisted of the child-less newlywed telling the other woman how she and her husband had already had many discussions and come to complete agreement about how they would raise their children. The things they would allow, the things they would not allow. Behaviors that would be tolerated, behaviors that would not, child rearing techniques that were pre-approved and those that were already dismissed as crap.

The other woman was only too eager to chime in as a parental "authority". She spoke volumes about her experience raising her children, and what she had decreed to be "right" and "wrong" in the field of parenting. She discussed at great length the successes she has had, the challenges she has faced, the trials of raising happy, obedient, curious children, and the overwhelming joy she takes in knowing she has done her job well. The age of her oldest child? Five.

I listened to this conversation .... to the claims and comments about "My child won't..." and "My child will ...." and "I will never ..." and "I will always ..." and I swear, my eyes rolled so far back in my head I could see my own tramp stamp.

Then I started laughing because holy cow, they sounded so ridiculous, and I'm sure I used to sound just like them!

I looked over at my girlfriend Alisa, herself the mother of four, who laughed with me and whispered, "Just wait. She'll be blessed with a 'spirited' child and will have to eat every word." Actually, what she said was, "Just watch. She'll get one just like Luke." Luke is Alisa's third-born and although *I* think he is delightful, Alisa promises he is a handful.

Now, I make no claim to be a child-rearing expert. As I type this, one child is eating Sweet Tarts for dinner (at 9:30 at night, after returning home from a birthday swim party where I forgot to send sunscreen). Another child is on the sofa, watching television, butt naked, because clothes are "too much work". And the third child has gone to her room to pout, angry with me, because *she* had to pay a fine because *her* library books were late.

Clearly, I have room for improvement in the parenting-skills arena. And I know these women will most likely come to realize the same things about themselves some day.

I'm not even sure I'll have the hang of this parenting gig by the time they're eighteen and off to college, but as long as they're off to college and not in jail I'll consider it at least a moderate success. (touch wood, please no jail!)

So to anyone who might have been caught in the crossfire of me and my delusional parenting plans and expertise -- you know, the expertise I had BEFORE I had kids -- I'm truly sorry.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

To Do List


Elaine, yes, I could use some information on San Juan! We are scheduled for a segway tour the evening we are there, but have a few hours to kill beforehand, during the afternoon. The segway girl recommended we go to Ocean Park, but I'm having trouble figuring out if that's a public beach, or a private community, and if we can catch a taxi there. What would YOU recommend for about three hours, on a weekday, during the late afternoon, that wouldn't take us tooooooo far from the cruise ship pier? Thanks!!

So, we're leaving on vacation in just a few days, and I am in full panic mode. I've gone beyond the casual list-making of "Wow, I still have a lot to do" into the full-fledged "Holy shit, how many things am I forgetting?" zone.

I hesitated about how much info to post here regarding our trip. Blog safety consciousness everywhere dictates you simply DON'T put that information out there on the web ..... might as well rent a neon sign to put in front of your house advertising to any and all prospective burglars that the house is empty with no one standing guard.**

So I considered not posting ... but then, if my blog suddenly went dormant for fourteen days in a row, wouldn't that be kind of big clue, as well? I mean, you guys would assume I was on vacation ... or in jail.

And no way am I organized enough to pre-post fourteen days' worth of blog entries and then at the end be all, "Surprise! I'm back! You didn't even know I was gone but I'm back!!" Yeah, none of you would fall for that.

And you know what else? I *want* to blog about my vacation while I'm on it. Not because I think anyone else really gives a rats ass (although if you DO, how nice is that for me?) but because its a much more convenient way for me to collect my thoughts and memories and tales on a daily basis, and then use that for my personal scrapbooking later.

So ..... here goes:


We are leaving next Monday for vacation --- the teeny tiny part of me that isn't hyperventilating in the corner for fear I will forget our passports, or we'll drive off and leave the suitcase with all the medicines in the garage, or someone will fall overboard, or we'll over stay our excursion and the cruise ship will leave us in Haiti, or we'll all catch some Caribbean version of the swine flu ..... well except for those minor concerns which are keeping me up at night, panic stricken and anxiety ridden .... except for those things, I'm really excited about it.

We are traveling with two other families, ten kids altogether, plus Grandma Betty. I think Grandma Betty thinks we only invited her for some free babysitting, which is totally not true, unless maybe one night there's a really good R-rated comedian or something on the ship, and then ok, maybe it would be convenient if she would take the kids on in to bed .... but mostly, its just because we like her company.

The kids are ecstatic ... they've never cruised, they can't wait to try snorkeling, we've chartered a private sailboat one day for just the six of us, they love the ocean, they love the beach, and Kellen was pretty much sold once he found out there is unlimited soda on the ship.

Blaine is in full "Oh, you just manage all the details, I completely trust you" mode ..... which I both appreciate and resent.

As for me, when I'm not stressing out that I'm going to forget something, or updating my to-do list, or crossing things off my to-do list as already done .... I'm giving a valiant effort to get as much done ahead of time as possible.

A variety of clothes, for a variety of situations, for five people, for fourteen days, with zero laundry facilities in the interim .... is a little intimidating. The situation is complicated by the fact that approximately twelve hours after we return home, my older two kids are leaving for a five-day church camp. Which means I will have to unpack the car, do laundry, and help them re-pack .... **probably** during the middle of the night, groggy eyed, grumpy, and still hopped up on caffeine from the 22-hour drive home.

So, a list of The Top Ten Things I discovered tonight, while demanding begging forcing threatening helping my children select their car clothes, daytime cruise clothes, dinner cruise clothes, formal dinner cruise clothes, swimsuits, pajamas, shoes, and undergarments:

1. NO-ONE in my family has fourteen days worth of underwear.

2. Kellen has not a single pair of dress socks to his name and has apparently been wearing athletic socks with his church shoes for months now, un-noticed by me.

3. Two of my three children do not have fourteen days worth of socks. The only reason it doesn't matter for the other child is because she lives in flip flops.

4. Kendrie despises dresses with every bone in her body.

5. When told she will wear a dress for formal night(s) or stay in the cabin during dinner (hello, Grandma Betty, looks like we'll put you to work after all!) she has to really think about it. The jury is still out on which she will choose.

6. The only way she will consider a dress with an itchy bodice is if she can wear an undershirt.

7. If you don't have an undershirt, taking scissors and cutting the arms and neck out of a plain white t-shirt will suffice, although after you have made the cuts is when she will tell you that's the shirt she normally wears with her pajama bottoms and you'll be screwed anyway.

8. My 12-yr old has cuter shoes than I do.

9. My 11-yr old was extremely helpful during the packing process, even voluntarily running downstairs to get his shoes and reminding me to pack him a belt. Hmmmmm. Something's up.

10. There's no way I'm doing this without forgetting something. Something big .... something important .... probably one of my kids. Or to pick up Grandma Betty the first morning on our way out of town.

**Burglars, ok, you really should know .... there is an alarm on our house. The dogs will still be here, inside most of the time. While the golden would simply lick your face off, the lab is actually pretty pissy if he doesn't know you. We found a camel cricket in the garage tonight, so take your chances with the mutant insects that might attack you. We really don't have anything good to steal, anyway. My sister and nephews will be here on and off the entire time, feeding the dogs and cat, bringing in the mail, mowing the lawn, etc. Since they live half an hour away, they intend to use our house as "home base" during these two weeks and will actually be here quite a bit, perhaps even overnight. Did I mention her husband is a volunteer sheriff's deputy and carries a gun???

I'm just saying ......

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Last Week's SPT Challenge

Since I forgot to do last week's SPT Challenge, which, according to Lelly of Lelly's Musings was to "bring the indoors outdoors for the summer" .... here we go:

ME (or at least my foot, so proof that I was actually there) going outdoors for various summer activities. I'm sure it comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me, that I much prefer my air conditioned house ... or the air conditioned mall .... or the air conditioned grocery store ..... or worst case scenario, my air conditioned car, on days when the temperature is anything over 85. The weather channel says triple digits the past two weeks ..... so dude, its been hot. Sticky, sweaty, why-bother-with-make-up, thank-goodness-for-pony-tail-holders, my-bra-is-soaking-wet-that's-disgusting kind of hot.

Needless to say, I've tried to have my "outdoors" involve water as much as possible.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

SPT Challenge June 23

As per Lelly of Lelly's Musings, the self-portrait challenge for the month of June is as follows:

"your challenge for june is to find your way back. no matter what's been keeping you from blogging, each week you are going to find one small hurdle to overcome. one item to cross off of your to-do list. one pile to declutter. one meal to prepare. one (or ten) pounds to lose.

one thing each week that will bring you to your blog. too vague? don't worry. i have parameters!!

tuesday, june 9 meal-planning/preparations or other organized family time

tuesday, june 16 bringing the indoors outdoors for summer

tuesday, june 23 tackle a very unpleasant cleaning task

tuesday, june 30 i feel better already!"

Cleaning tasks, or cleaning in general, is what I consider a necessary evil in life. I don't like to live in filth, so I clean my house. Not as thoroughly or as often as other people might clean theirs, but enough that child protective services doesn't knock on our door to investigate rumors of squalid living conditions. Sometimes I've been known to invite people over for dinner just so I have motivation to clean, and if I get a hint of a whiff of news that company is about to drop in unexpectedly, I will hit the furniture with a Pledge wipe and fists of fury.

But overall ..... meh, its just something that has to be done. I feel no great sense of satisfaction or pride when the job is completed, and normally just want to have it done so I can move on to more fun things, like facebooking or scrapbooking or my guilty pleasure, watching Tim Hawkins videos on You Tube.

A few chores, however, that I *do* deem unpleasant:

Anything involving vomit, be it human or animal.

Anything involving poop, be it human or animal.

Anything involving blood, be it human or animal.

Anything involving bugs, period.

The past few weeks we have been victims of a particularly virulent ant infestation. Primarily located (but not limited to) the kitchen. Teeny tiny black sugar ants. (Is that what they're called? Sugar ants? Because that's where Blaine kept finding them.... in the sugar canister.) We've smacked, we've smooshed, we've drowned in the kitchen sink. Blaine has purchased bug spray and sprayed the kitchen enough times in the past month that we'll probably all grow a third foot or start to glow or something. And yet they return. And multiply.

The final straw came this week when we found them in our pantry. Specifically, in an open box of Corn Pops. And, crawling all over the bottom shelf.

I've drawn circles around all the little critters, to give you an appreciation for their number. And to give you an appreciation for the gasp of shock and outrage and disgust that spewed forth from my body when I discovered them. I mean, they're just ants, not those ginormous Amazon cockroaches or anything. But to find them in your food?? .... that you eat?? ..... with your own mouth?? ..... ewwwwwwwww.

And ps, I realize this is supposed to be a SELF-portrait, but you'll just have to imagine that you can actually *see* the shock and outrage and disgust, because that's the part of me that was oozing into the picture ....

Needless to say, the exterminator came yesterday.

But in the meantime, the unpleasant task of cleaning out the pantry .... fell to Blaine. Of course it did ..... would you expect any different?

PS. Lelly announced a summer (?) hiatus on her blog today ..... selfishly, my first thought was, "How will I get my SPT Challenges if she's not updating?" Let's hope she continues to update at least weekly, or I'll have to think up my own SPT Challenges and you'll wind up with weekly pictures of me taking one relative or the other to the oncologist, because that's about all I do anymore.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Updates on the Fam

(Ha! My spell-check totally tried to change that to "Updates on the Farm"!)

It's truly nice that so many of you are kind enough to inquire about our family and how we're all getting along in our various trials and challenges. I don't always do a great job blogging about it, but since you've asked, here goes:

Kendrie: rocks. Is being seen once a year in Survivor's Clinic, when she has blood work done, an exam, and typically an e.k.g. each year to check for heart damage from the chemo. She does well in school, plays soccer, loves to swim, and seems to suffer no long-term effects from the chemo ..... except for a truly crappy diet. The girl would live on goldfish, ham, chocolate chips, Dr. Pepper, and Three Muskateers if we would let her. There is never a reason for a fruit or vegetable to cross her lips, unless it is a bowl of fresh strawberries, preferably with an entire cup of sugar poured on the top.

Blaine: meh. As far as the cancer itself goes, he is doing well. His latest pet scan, the one he had after finishing his most recent round of radiation, was good. It showed some areas of tumor activity, but none that were new and none that were bigger. So, good news there, and he'll continue to get pet scans every few months to watch for new tumor activity. Pain management, fatigue, and dietary issues are still key, but we work on those every day. He and I will be traveling to San Antonio next month so he can try a new outpatient procedure that his pain management doctor is hopeful will help. Can't hurt to try, right? And hey, if I get a chance to visit the Alamo at the same time ... bonus!

Grandma Betty: sailed through her treatments for breast cancer earlier this month. Lumpectomy, then ten rounds of radiation over five days and she never missed a beat. She had her final appointment with the surgeon last week, and sees an oncologist tomorrow to discuss which medication she still needs to take (pathology revealed the tumor was estrogen-receptor positive ....) but overall she is doing great. We really couldn't have asked for a smoother treatment plan, and we are grateful.

My sister, Kelly: oh wait, did I neglect to mention that my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer ................ LAST FREAKING WEEK?

(weary sigh)

I'm not an oncologist, but I play one in real life.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I'm not a huge believer in karma. Oh, sure, I believe whatever attitude you put out there into the universe will usually come back around and either help you, or knock you down, depending on the vibes you're sending out in the first place. If you exude good things and helpfulness, good things and helpfulness will find their way back to you. Like a Payback Boomerang, if you will.

And I also believe that sometimes, you make your own luck. Or at least make your own attitude, which can definitely affect your outlook, which can definitely affect your day to day life. You know, glass-half-full and what-not.

On second thought, maybe I'm a bigger believer in karma than I thought.

This past week, I've been in a foul mood. People have annoyed me, my feelings have been hurt, I've sulked, I've nursed a grudge, and perhaps worst of all, I shouted at one of my kids in Target. (It was totally his fault, and seriously, I had warned him and warned him and at that point, ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH. But still. Who's the grownup here???)

In short, I haven't been putting out sunshine rays or angel wings of happiness or unicorn smiles or glittery moonbeams of karma into my local universe lately.

Yesterday morning, I pulled a muscle in my back. What was I doing? The highly athletic activity, admired by Olympians and envied by physical fitness buffs the world over known as: Putting my hair in a ponytail.

That's right, I was standing at my bathroom counter, put my arms up over my head, and pulled a muscle in my back.

I think karma just came around and bit me in the ............. lower left shoulder muscle, to be exact.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Worthwhile after all

I made Oriental Chicken Salad for dinner tonight .... one of my favorites. Unfortunately, its extremely humid here (or maybe only humid in my house!) and the ceramic bowl was wet. As I went to put it in the fridge, it slipped out of my hands, took a good bounce on the kitchen rug, and salad went everywhere.

Dang, I hate when stuff like that happens.

I simply opened the back door and let the dogs in. They had the whole mess cleaned up in about thirty seconds flat. So instead of having to pick up a gazillion oil-covered pieces of salad and nuts and seeds and ramen noodles and pieces of chicken, I just waited until they were done, then got down on my hands and knees with Clorox Wipes to clean off the floor.

If that disgusts you, well, you'll know not to accept any invitations to eat at my house.

As for me, it balances out the eating of the shoe and all is forgiven.

WWBC Version Who the heck knows anymore?

I'm not sure if the proper question is "What Would Barley Chew?", or "When are those Escoe kids going to learn to put their damn shoes up at night?"

And it probably would have been funny, because they're just Kendrie's inexpensive pool shoes .... but then she chewed up my nephew's pair when he was here visiting .... then she chewed up a pair of Brayden's .... then another pair .... and by then I had quit taking pictures because it appears the cycle is endless, as is her appetite for plastic.

And at some point, its not funny anymore. Mainly because I get tired of running up to Payless or Wal-Mart or wherever, buying new flip flops for everybody. Then, my Parenting with Love and Logic kicks in, and I'm all "Hey, there are natural consequences for things, so just let them go barefoot!" and then they're all "Waah, waah, wahh, but the sidewalk is too hot, carry me!" and I'm all, "Do you not see that I'm already loaded down like a sherpa on Mount Everest with the towels and bags and lunches and innertube and now you want me to carry you for goodness sake you're almost teenagers!" and they're all, "Seriously, Mom, the parking lot is burning our feet!!!" and I'm all "Oh, Dear Lord, let me just buy you some new shoes."

And the whole vicious circle goes back to this face:

"As soon as these human people are gone, I am SO finishing off that shoe ....."

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Kristie, I'd love to hear about your high school reunion Was it your first? Your last? Surprises? Disappointments?

I skipped my 20th and have no regrets, but I am always interested in other people's experiences.

This was my fourth reunion ..... we had a tenth, a fifteenth which was rained out (literally -- we planned a family day at a park, and it poured buckets) a twentieth, and this was our twenty-fifth.

Well, my experience was good, but I should probably point out that I am one of those obnoxious weirdoes who loved high school and suffered none of the teen angst and drama that is so popular on current fake-reality television.

Also, my opinion is possibly skewed due to the fact I grew up in the same small town and attended the same small school from kindergarten through twelfth grade, then moved away for twenty years with my military husband. So it's very likely that my sense of nostalgia and sentimentality is greater than those people who continued to live here, and who could see their old friends from high school anytime they wanted. I view the opportunity to catch up with old friends as a treat and a privilege, but I understand that not everyone feels that way.

So, with that stated, I can admit, as the person in charge of tracking down old classmates for this reunion, that at first my feelings were hurt by people choosing not to attend. It was frustrating to try and find old classmates (there should really be some law that women who get married and change their last names have to register with an "Office of High School Connections" somewhere, or something) and to spend time searching the internet, and sending inquiry e-mails, searching old phonebooks, and cold-calling, and then receive no response or reply. Then, I didn't know whether to be more offended by the people who said it sounded like a great time, and they'd get back to me with their reservation and payment ..... and then I never heard from them again, or to be more offended by the people who said (either to my face, or through the grapevine) that they had no use or interest in any of us, and couldn't care less about attending.

Quick note --- I went to a small high school. Our graduating class was about 70 people. Blaine, on the other hand, graduated with over 400, and in the 27 years since he graduated, has talked to maybe three people. He said there were people who walked across the stage at his graduation that he had never seen before, and he never saw again. So I can understand why he is not interested in attending a reunion with people who he never knew, and who mean nothing to him.

I, on the other hand, feel like the situation at my high school was different. Every single person in my graduating class knew one another. OK, sure, maybe not everyone has kept in touch since high school (although a very large number of people HAVE) and maybe these people aren't best friends anymore .... but to basically say "I care so little about the people I graduated with, who knew me and knew my family and spent most of my formative years with me ..... that I can't take one evening out of my life to show up and even pretend I give a shit about how life has treated them for the past twenty-five years ....." was odd to me. I was excited to see these people -- I genuinely was interested in how things were for them, and what they were doing. I looked forward to visiting with them again --- to learn that they did NOT feel the same way about me? I am just shallow enough to admit -- was a little hurtful. And I started the weekend with a pretty good chip on my shoulder about it.

Then? I got over myself. We had about thirty percent of our class show up for this reunion (which I think might be about average for most reunions, no matter the number of graduates ...) and you know what? Every single person who came, came because they WANTED to. The vast majority brought spouses or dates who were good sports, jumped right in and got involved in conversations. (Many went to the same high school and graduated in different classes.) They were sincere and genuine, and they were more interested in reconnecting with the people who were there, than in wasting time wondering about the people who weren't. (That was one of the things I had worried about .... that the people who did come would think it was my fault for the large number of people who didn't ....) But, we talked and laughed and did all the "remember the time we dot dot dot" stories; I learned things about my classmates that I had no idea had happened in high school ..... some funny, some sad, and some I can't believe didn't land people in jail for the stunts they pulled!! Then, when the dinner was over, almost all of us went out as a group, searching for karaoke. Which we didn't find, but we still stayed out until after 1am. And it's my opinion that people don't stay out until after 1am unless they are enjoying themselves -- especially those of us over the age of 40! So it was a good lesson for me. Our numbers were small, but mighty, and this is one time where quality was more important than quantity. Bottom line, for the people who didn't want to go, the reason is theirs, not mine, and I shouldn't have wasted one minute worrying or taking it personally about why they didn't want to be there.

No huge surprises. No drag queens, no sex change operations, no one in the witness protection program -- unless, wait. Maybe *that's* why I couldn't find some people!!

We have doctors, nurses, titans of industry, teachers, preachers, truck drivers, police officers, homemakers, a local radio personality, and more. A few have died, and a few have been in jail. Most are simply enjoying life, with their families, kids, and even a small number of grandkids. Age has treated all my classmates well, it appears. A few more gray hairs, or pounds around the middle, perhaps, but they can still make me laugh, drudge up tons of good memories, and encourage me to ride a zip-line across a lake. So all told, I'd say they're pretty good eggs, and I give the weekend two thumbs up.

More importantly, my kids want to know when we're going back to do the zip line some more. Hey, they've got their priorities.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Ideas I've had to blog about this week.

Photos I took for Tuesday's self-portrait challenge.

What I've got.

Suggestions, anyone? Because this is pretty much the lamest blog entry ever.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

25 years, and she still doesn't have the sense God gave a billy goat.

My class reunion family picnic day was today. As far as the Escoes are concerned, it was a rousing success.

Proof that our family is adventurous:

Proof that our family is daring:

Proof that our family are a bunch of risk-takers:

Proof that our family is brave:

Proof that our family is bold:

Proof that our family is courageous:

Proof that our family is fearless:

Proof that our family is always up for a challenge:

Proof that our family ....

Proof that our family ....

Proof that our family .....

Um, proof .......

Oh my goodness, what is she trying to prove?

Well, shit.

Proof that I know how to make an AWESOME impression on people I haven't seen in twenty-five years!!!

Well, if nothing else, it was cool.

And it provided everyone on shore with a good laugh.

For the record, once the weight of your buttocks drags your lower body into the water, the zipline quits moving. So your choices are to inch towards the shore, hoping against hope that your upper body strength lasts, or to drop as gracefully as possible into the water.

You can pretty much guess which option I chose.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

And we shall re-name him "Madalyn Murray O'Hare"

Please note what is chewed almost beyond recognition: A Bible storybook.

Please note what is lying next to the book, UN-chewed: a bright orange, good-smelling (to a dog) good-tasting (to a dog) good textured (so the tag claimed) fairly expensive Chew Bone.

(NOT as expensive as that set of storybooks, but that's another story for another day, let's just say I don't know if it's more shameful for me to confess to owning an "As Seen On TV" Magic Bullet, or admitting we bought these books from a door-to-door traveling salesman.)

Please note, in our defense, that the Bible storybook was placed properly on the bookshelf, and the dog dragged it out either with his teeth, or his little paws, and commenced to destroying all the stories for the little children who believe in the baby Jesus.

I will need a moment of silence now, to pray for my dog's eternal soul.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's that time again ....

when I dig back -- sometimes way, way back -- in my comment section and answer questions from people who are kind enough to actually ask questions. In fact, kind enough to even read the blog in the first place, let alone comment on the drivel I've written!

Clearly I need to do this on a more timely basis, as I couldn't remember what a few of the questions even pertained to .... or maybe that's a sign I just need to start taking ginko biloba.

Either way, here goes:

Deb has left a new comment on your post "On an off note...what are meatloaf muffins? My family loves meatloaf and I am thinking this would be something they would love!"

Deb, a few months ago, a local group of ladies was fundraising for the LLS and put together a cookbook to sell. I love cookbooks like that, from "real" people with "real" recipes involving "real" ingredients. This one is a new family favorite:

1 - 1/2 lbs very lean ground beef (I normally cook with ground turkey, but this recipe is better with beef, in my opinion. Just buy extremely lean.)

6 oz package Stove Top stuffing

1 C water

2 eggs

Combine ingredients. Place in 12-cup muffin pan (spray first with non-stick cooking spray.) Bake at 350 for 35-40 min. Easy, and YUM!


lizinsumner asks: I don't know if congratulations is an appropriate thing to say for a baptism - but, I'll say it anyway. Brings back memories of my own baptism....and Kendrie treading water???!!!!! Love it! But, I'm curious - 173 baptisms?? How come so many at once??

Liz, the first baptism (with 173 people) was spontaneous. Our pastor was being baptized (I think our church does it two or three times a year??) and spur of the moment, he invited anyone who would like to also be baptized to come down and join him. People just started pouring out of the pews. Our church seats close to 2000 people, and we have two services, so there was a large group of people who took part in this fantastic event. Then, so many people asked for a second one because they missed the first (out of town, or whatever reason ....) that they offered a second. That is the one our family took part in.


Mom on the Run, with regard to my post about sensational citizen day, asked: "There were 392 character award winners? Did I get that right? That seems like a huge number. How big is your school? Or does the 392 include all the parents."

Well, it *felt* like 392, with all the parents crammed into the gym. But no, I was being sarcastic. The entire elementary school, Pre-K through 5th, only has about 700 students. But still, when you're the PTO person in charge of xeroxing skate night notices and distributing them, 700 is a LOT! (Not that I would know anything about that, ahem.)


Anonymous asks: "where are you cruising to this time? With or without brats?"

Dear anonymous .... the Caribbean. With.


Pam D has left a new comment on your post "SPT Challenge April 28": I have a totally unrelated question: how do you get your pictures in your post to be larger? (like the one of Alisa and the one of Ree in the cooking post)? Do you change up something in the HTML? just wondering.. my biggest frustration with Blogger is that my pictures are so small. Thanks!

Pam, to be completely honest, although I know uploading photos via blogger is possible, I have no idea how to do it. I store all of my photos on my personal web space, then use an html code to link them into my journal entries. I simply re-size them to fit the blog before I upload them. That's the way I had to do it on Kendrie's Caringbridge page, so that's the way I continue to do it with Blogger. I'm sure there are easier ways, but I'm like a stone ... or a rock .... or any kind of stubborn thing you can think of .... once I find a method that works for me, I don't change it. For anything. And RUE THE DAY the technology changes without asking my permission and I'm forced to learn new methods.


Renee has left a new comment on your post "Things I Learned Today":

I share the same love of "camping." The last picture is a keeper! Did you **ever** do the Carters Lake hike?

Renee, this comment hurts me. Deeply. Especially since you are one of my best friends and I feel betrayed by your insinuation that I am not particularly athletic and nature-y. To imply that I do not relish hiking and sweating and bugs and leaves and crap. That I would somehow try to weasel my way out of our annual scrapbooking hike, and sit in the cabin instead, drinking amaretto sours and eating chocolate. Hmmmph! (Psssst, I got out of the hike the first two years, but Kim was really giving me grief the third year so I went. I wasn't sure I would make it back up the hill without roadside assistance. It sucked. So glad we're going to Ohio this year, and hopefully no trails near Jodi's house!!)


The Running Girl has left a new comment on your post "Why Julia Child doesn't have to worry about me ste...":

"OH MY! That Death by Chocolate looks amazing. Please share the recipe. YUMMMMMM!"

Bri, it might very well be the best dessert ever made in the history of the universe. If I make it, I have to make sure it gets eaten in the first setting, or leave it with our hosts, or send it home with someone else, because if not, I have been known to sit down on the sofa with the bowl in my lap and a spoon and eat until I put myself into a diabetic coma. And I'm not even diabetic.

One family sized brownie mix

2 large boxes instant chocolate pudding

12 oz Cool Whip

6 Heath candy bars, chopped

Make brownies according to directions (13x9 pan). Let cool. Make chocolate pudding according to directions. Let set.

Layer in trifle bowl (or salad bowl, or whatever kind of clear pretty bowl you have):

1/2 brownies
1/2 pudding
1/2 candy bars (save small amount for garnish)
1/2 cool whip

Repeat layers with second halves. Sprinkle some of the chopped candy bars on top. Oh good heavens, I'm totally craving this now just typing the recipe. It's even better the second day when the brownies have gotten kind of smushy from the pudding in the fridge --- total goodness.


Hennifer has left a new comment on your post "Perfect Mother's Day":

"I'm not sure I'll ever get over quite how long your son's legs are. It is your fault of course for pointing it out but my goodness. How tall is he?"

Hennifer, he's about 5"2, I think. I'm 5"6 (if I'm standing up straight) and he can't quite look me in the eye, although it is becoming increasingly depressing when I hug him and he's getting closer and closer to catching me. He's actually not the tallest in his class, by far. He *used* to be --- he used to be freakish giant mutant tall compared to all the other kids. But he's slowed down, and some of them have grown, and he was actually caught and passed this year by a few boys in his grade (for the record, I don't think it counts when its boys who have been held back by their parents and should technically be in the grade above because they are a full year older .... no "tall" points for them.)


Mama Bear has left a new comment on your post "That makes no sense to me whatsoever":

"Inside lane? Outside lane? Don't any kids walk to school anymore or ride their bikes or ride a bus?"

Mama Bear, lest you think the kids at our school are a bunch of spoiled, pampered, lazy slobs who insist on being delivered at school in style each day (oh, wait! That's only my three!) ...... let me point out that our school is very small, and our school district is also small -- only one square mile. Only five or six blocks in each direction from the school. Therefore, busing is not offered to any students, even those that live "in-district". Many of the in-district students walk to school, my own included (when they're not demanding chauffeur service, of course.) Several ride bikes as well.

However, almost 80% of the students in our school are "transfer" students, meaning they transfer in from other public school districts. Clearly their district is not going to provide them transportation to our school. Ours is a public school, so parents must receive permission to transfer in and out (unlike private school, where you pay tuition to attend.) But, transfer students live all over town, and often live in neighboring towns. My sister, for instance, drives almost half an hour each way to bring her kids to this school every single day. Clearly, students who live miles and miles from the school, and who must cross many busy streets and intersections, are unable to walk or bike. So our car lanes are a necessity, and personally I think it's fabulous that the principal is out there opening doors and helping children in and out of cars.

I would also point out that even in Georgia, where busing for the students was available, many parents elected to transport their own kids to and from, for convenience. Ie, when kids are on the bus for 45 minutes on their way to and from school, when a parent can drive it in ten. Our local high school didn't start until 7:30, but our neighborhood high school kids were picked up as early as 6:10 by the bus. If you're a parent and are lucky enough that your schedule allows you to take your kids .... well, I think it's great.

I would also like to point out that I have rambled on for four paragraphs about this, and I have no idea why.


Musings from Me has left a new comment on your post "You can always find *something* positive ... even ...":

"What did you think of Paul Blart: Mall Cop? I thought it was a terrible film. Predictable. Poorly acted. Kinda felt like Kevin James was doing what the SNL guys do with their films -- ride the wave of familiarity by doing a mediocre film."

Bearing in mind I'm not a professional film critic by any means .... I thought the funniest parts were in the trailer, and the movie was mediocre at best. However! It was showing at the dollar theater, and by golly, if you can't find a few laughs to get your buck's worth, then you're in sad shape. But, it will definitely NOT be going on our "To Buy" list, or even on our "To Rent Again With Dad" list. (Why yes, we *do* have lists .... don't you?)


Sara has left a new comment on your post "Helicopter Parent":

"It's so funny to see the differences between families. I attended boarding school from third grade through twelfth grade in Rolle, Switzerland. Of course, I went home (to London, and later, Chicago) over Christmas, spring break, and the summer, but for the most part I was very independent. I absolutely adored being on my own, and am still so thankful that I was able to have such an amazing experience - I credit much of my current success to my old school."

Sara, thanks so much for sharing this -- I find the whole concept of boarding school fascinating!! Are they always all-girl, or all-boy? Does everyone get to wear a cool blazer? Is it only rich kids that get to go? Does everyone talk with a British accent? Are there all sorts of late-night shenanigans going on??? So many questions .....

I never wanted to attend boarding school, and know no one who ever did (I think it's more of a European thing, isn't it?) but I was always intrigued. At least until I read the Harry Potter books, and then I *DID* want to attend Hogwarts. Shoot, 'round these parts, going out of state to college at age 18 is considered adventurous!


lizinsumner has left a new comment on your post "SPT Challenge June 9":

"Okay, I like smoothies - although I like Starbucks frappaccinnos more - but there's one thing that I JUST DON'T GET about smoothies: what's the deal with the wheat germ? Is wheat germ, like, a totally REQUIRED ingredient in smoothies? And what the heck is wheat germ for? This just may very well keep me up all night tonight, pondering........"

Ummmm, wheat germ is .... ummmmm, wheat. I think. Which makes it a grain, which makes it healthy. Everyone knows that grains are good for you. And wheat grows in a field, which means it has fresh air and sunshine built into it, which is also good for you. And clearly it helps protect you against germs. Germs from the ... uh .... wheat germ ... things.

OK, well, obviously I have no idea what wheat germ is for -- folic acid, maybe? .... just that people put it in their smoothies, so I think I should, too! In fact, when Mandy mentioned flaxseed in an earlier comment, I made a mental note to pick up some of that, too, even though I have no idea what that does either! I can tell you that we use the whey (protein powder) in a transparent attempt to put some meat on my child's bones. I don't think he can technically build muscle until he begins to go through puberty and gets some testosterone in his skinny little body, but I figure until he voluntarily eats more meat, a little protein powder certainly can't hurt. Right? (Please, if there are any nutritionists reading this, and protein powder actually CAN hurt my son, would you let me know? Because I'm pretty sure I can always just give him more of that healthy wheat germ stuff to counteract it ....)


And thus ends this edition of "Answers to Comments". Please feel free to ask more questions in the comments so we can have more editions. Or .... don't. If you think this is stupid, and all.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

SPT Challenge June 9

As always since it began in January, I eagerly awaited Lelly's Self-Portrait challenge last week, only to be dismayed to read that she was so overwhelmed with things keeping her from her own computer that she didn't have time to think up an spt challenge, let alone issue it, let alone blog about it.

Hmmm. I'm not sure if that's a clue that I'm really organized, really anal, or that I just need to get a life.

Instead, she posted the following challenge the next day and gave us a week off to think about it:

"your challenge for june is to find your way back. no matter what's been keeping you from blogging, each week you are going to find one small hurdle to overcome. one item to cross off of your to-do list. one pile to declutter. one meal to prepare. one (or ten) pounds to lose.

one thing each week that will bring you to your blog. too vague? don't worry. i have parameters!!

tuesday, june 9 meal-planning/preparations or other organized family time

tuesday, june 16 bringing the indoors outdoors for summer

tuesday, june 23 tackle a very unpleasant cleaning task

tuesday, june 30 i feel better already!"

And after reading that, I wonder if I perhaps have brain-dyslexia. I can read fine, and I can write fine, but I think I have this challenge backwards. Those aren't the things that will bring me to my blog, those are the very things that keep me FROM my blog.

So she wants me to blog about the things that if I do them I don't have time to blog? Or am I supposed to think about the things that keep me from my blog, and then do them, and then blog about it? Or just blog about thinking about doing them? Isn't that just a wee bit existential? Deep? Profound? Or at least more complicated than my tiny brain can comprehend?

Don't answer that.

But a challenge it is, and so a challenge I shall take.

June 9th -- meal plannings or preparation. I thought I would take this chance to share with you a recent purchase that has possibly changed my life more than any other purchase ever made in the history of the world and that includes push-up bras and the internet, so that's really saying something. (I'm kidding. I've never worn a push-up bra in my life.)

About a month ago, I bought a Magic Bullet. I had never even heard of such a thing but another mom on Kellen's soccer team was raving about it. I think it's some kind of mini-food-processor-chopper-mixer-thing, but she uses hers for smoothies and was going on and on about how convenient it is, and how much it has improved her life.

Basically, the device allows you to make individual smoothies for each member of your family, with minimal clean up. Each person can pick and choose the ingredients of their choice and they don't have to agree on the same things like they do when you're making an entire blender of smoothies. You mix the smoothies in the same glass that they drink out of, which can then be put in the dishwasher. No big blender to rinse out and wash each morning, no big blender base to drag in and out of the pantry, or try and find space on the counter for.

My kids (well, Brayden and Kellen, anyway ... Kendrie still thinks "Cocoa Puffs" should count as its own food group) have eaten more fresh fruit in the past month than probably their whole life. I feel smug and superior that I'm providing them with such a yummy, healthy breakfast that they love, instead of a bowl of carbohydrates and sugar. (see above: Cocoa Puffs.)

As cheesy as it might be to admit to owning an "As Seen on TV!" device, I must say, the Magic Bullet has changed my life for the better. I highly recommend this purchase. It has nothing whatsoever to do with my blogging, but I love it.

Now, where's the number for that Sham-Wow dude, because I think that's pretty much all I need to make my life complete.

Brayden's favorite smoothie:
one whole banana
approx 1/3 cup chopped fresh strawberries
one kiwi
two scoops strawberry flavored yogurt
ice and orange juice

Kellen's favorite smoothie:
one whole banana
one scoop peanut butter
two scoops vanilla flavored yogurt
two tablespoons(ish) Carnation Chocolate Instant Breakfast Powder
one scoop chocolate-flavored whey
ice and milk
one good squirt Hershey's syrup

Kendrie's favorite smoothie:
strawberry flavored yogurt
(Hey, we're working on it. Hoping to eventually eliminate the Cocoa Puffs altogether.)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Helicopter Parent

I do not, for the record, consider myself a helicopter parent. I keep close tabs on my kids, sure. I like to think of myself as attentive, involved, and caring. But I don't particularly hover, and I don't freak out when my kids aren't within immediate eyesight or earsight. I've gone away on overnight trips, on scrapbooking weekends with my girlfriends, and on a two-week cruise (sans kids) with Blaine. The kids, in the reverse, have all three spent time away from us on playdates and sleepovers at other kids houses. Give them roots, give them wings, yadda yadda yadda.

All that to say --- Kellen is gone to a three day, two night sleep-away camp at a university away from home, with no way to contact him except in the event of an extreme emergency ..... and I (sniff, sniff) miss him more than I ever thought I would.

I think the difference is that when he spends the night with friends, I know their mothers. I have the knowledge that I can get ahold of him any time I want. Not that I DO, just that I CAN.

At football camp, he is one of six hundred boys, and those counselors don't know him personally. They don't know his name; they don't know anything about him. They don't know that he's using an alarm clock to wake himself up for breakfast for the first time in his life. They don't know that he likes chocolate milk instead of white, they're not going to remind him that I left extra money in his suitcase in case he gets hungry, they're not going to remind him to lock the room behind him when he leaves, they don't know that he's too self-conscious to ask for help if he needs it, and they sure as heck don't care if he remembers to put on the sunscreen I left for him.

Do I think he'll be fine? Yes.

Do I think he'll manage to work the alarm clock and make it to breakfast on time? Yes.

Do I think he's having fun, learning tons about football, and enjoying himself with his friend Chance while they stay in the dorms? Yes, yes, and yes.

But it's breaking my heart just a little bit.

Conversation earlier today:

Me: "It feels weird without Kellen here. I wonder how he's doing. I wonder what he's doing RIGHT NOW. I wonder if he's having fun. I wonder how the practices are going. I wonder how the food in the cafeteria is. I wonder if he misses us, too."

Kendrie: "It does feel weird. Like part of our family is missing."

Brayden: "All I've noticed is how much quieter is it around here."

How on earth will he AND Brayden I survive FIVE DAYS of church camp later this summer??

A large number of the boys attending the camp are day campers, and their parents are responsible for getting the boys to and from practice, and they stay during the practices, also. I figured it couldn't hurt the first day if I stuck around, too, even if Kellen is an overnight camper and I didn't *technically* need to be there. I blended in with the hundreds of other parents ... and it gave me a chance to watch what they were doing .... and whisper goodbye one last time when Kellen ran past me on his way back to the dorms, happy as a clam .....

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Welcome to the next edition ...

...of WWBC 2009.

(in other words, "What Would Barley Chew?", a continuing series involving our dogs, Barley and Brew, and the innumerous household items they ravage during their time here.)

I don't think it requires any great stretch of the imagination to guess exactly what I thought this was on my bedroom floor when I rounded the corner.

I also don't think it requires any great stretch of the imagination to guess exactly what words came out of my mouth upon seeing this, the bewilderment about what on God's green earth they had possibly eaten to make them this ill, and envisioning the clean-up that would be required.

Never in the history of the world has a pet owner been so happy as to discover it was only a nerf football.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

You can always find *something* positive ... even if it's just laughing at your sister

So, not to beat around the bush, but last month my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

But saying it that way ... BREAST CANCER ... sounds all dramatic and somber and theatrical, and really .... it's not. It was caught extremely early. With a proper treatment plan the survival rate is something like 99.8%, and truthfully, none of us are too freaked out about it.

In fact, my mom is more annoyed than anything because we are leaving on our cruise in a few weeks and she's already informed her doctor that "she doesn't have time for this crap, thank you very much, so just do what you need to do and let's get it over with."

My sister and I have been her support people the past month or so during her visits with surgeons, radiologists, and oncologists. We've sat with her for ultrasounds and cat scans and MRIs and needle biopsies. I now know way more than I ever planned with regard to lumpectomies vs mastectomies, stages, grades, balloon radiation vs beam radiation, estrogen receptor positive vs negative ... et. al. I also know more than I ever intended about sinus cancer and pediatric leukemia, which is really starting to give me a complex because what is the common denominator here???? ME. I'm beginning to think I am this family's lucky fucking charm, is all, and being related to me is perhaps not such a good thing for the other members in this family.

But this isn't about me. It's about my mother and how she's doing.

She's doing fine, thank you for asking.

She had her surgery yesterday and things went smoothly. Except for the fact she is a total lightweight apparently allergic to Lortab and threw up her heels for hours afterwards, despite taking anti-nausea meds, which actually provided some comedic relief, because I had NO IDEA my sister was a vomit-phobe who would run screaming from the recovery room anytime my mother started to retch. And I would totally make fun of her for it. (My sister, for running. Not my mom.)

Naturally, *I* am the one who wound up rubbing her back while she puked and spending the night with her while she continued puking and then rinsing out the disposable vomit bag because even though the nurses gave her several bags, they were really cool disposable vomit bags and once we were back at her house and she was down to her last one she was all, "you should rinse this out in case I need it again" and I was all "that's ok mom I can just get you a bowl" and she was all "no, no, because this way is easy and not as gross, you should just rinse it out" and I thought to myself "yeah it's not as gross to you because you're not the one rinsing it out in the sink."

It was gross.

Kidding, mom. I love you and it wasn't that gross!

(Ok, it totally was, but I don't to make her feel bad about it.)

I am also the one charged with changing her dressing every day until radiation starts and while we've never been an exceptionally shy and private family, I have also never seen my mother's breasts as many times in my LIFE as I have the past two days.

But that's ok, too. I figure as many diaper changes as she gave me when I was born it's probably only fair I help her out now and not protest the nudity.


Sorry. I got sidetracked there .... still giggling at my sister practically knocking a nurse over trying to get out of the room when my mom was throwing up. Considering she has four boys under the age of 13, you'd think she'd be a little stronger-stomached when it comes to bodily fluids like blood or barf, but no.

Of course, she got her chance to laugh at me when I carried a borrowed chair into the empty recovery room next to my mom's, only to discover it wasn't empty and I basically walked in on a fat naked man eating a popsicle.

Sorry about that, sir.

So anyway, what's my point?

My mom is doing well. She didn't want me to tell anyone about her diagnosis because she didn't want any attention. She only let me tell about it now because the surgery is over, and enough of her close friends know about it that she no longer feels it's a secret.

And the REASON I choose to tell you is twofold:

1) To thank you in advance for keeping Grandma Betty in your thoughts during her upcoming radiation, and

2) Typical PSA disclaimer like I always throw in: Please remember to get your annual mammogram. You. Just. Never. Know.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Moments in time ....

A few weeks ago, I thought the funniest thing I had ever heard was a group of eleven year old boys, belting out "Jenny/867-5309" as loudly as they could in my van.

Today, driving down the road, I think the five twelve-year old girls singing "The Hairbrush Song" from Veggie Tales at the top of their lungs was even funnier.

Good thing my kids' friends are just as easily amused as they are.